Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 14–22

Cognitive reappraisal increases heart rate variability in response to an anger provocation


    • School of PsychologyThe University of New South Wales
  • Jessica R. Grisham
    • School of PsychologyThe University of New South Wales
  • Michelle L. Moulds
    • School of PsychologyThe University of New South Wales
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11031-011-9201-5

Cite this article as:
Denson, T.F., Grisham, J.R. & Moulds, M.L. Motiv Emot (2011) 35: 14. doi:10.1007/s11031-011-9201-5


Adaptive self-regulatory responses to negative events are associated with good mental health, social functioning, and physical health. Two forms of emotion regulation that have received attention within the context of anger are cognitive reappraisal and expressive suppression. Research suggests that greater heart rate variability (HRV) is a physiological indicator of adaptive emotion regulation and decreased mental load. In the present experiment, we recorded HRV while 131 undergraduate women viewed an anger-inducing video of a fellow student arguing for a position counter to that of the participant on an important political issue. Immediately prior to viewing, participants were instructed to reappraise, suppress their emotions, or simply watch the video as normal. Participants in the reappraisal condition showed increased HRV whereas those in the suppression and control condition showed no such increase. These results provide support for increased HRV as a biological correlate of adaptive emotion regulation. One implication is that cognitive reappraisal might afford greater autonomic flexibility when an individual is confronted with anger-inducing events.


Anger Reappraisal Suppression Heart rate variability Emotion regulation

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011